Update! After this was written, Governor Tony Evers took down the Christmas tree again. If only he would show this much efficiency in getting people their unemployment benefits.
Governor Tony Evers (D) may think taxpayer money grows on trees, but he doesn’t want to see one in the Capitol. The Capitol Police took down a Christmas tree put up by Assembly Republicans Rep. Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) and Rep. Shae Sortwell (R-Two Rivers) in the middle of the closed Capitol on the ground floor.
But now Assembly lawmakers have erected another tree, and the War on Christmas is on in the Capitol.
The Republicans’ Christmas tree was placed in the spot where the annual, traditional Capitol Christmas tree is placed. That tree, usually quite large, is normally decorated by school children from around the state, usually to match some theme.
Unfortunately, Sortwell and Tittl applied to the wrong agency for permission to put up their tree, according to the Associated Press, and so Evers had his excuse to take the tree down.
But Republican lawmakers responded by decorating another tree in the same place. It is unknown why they’re using artificial trees when the Capitol Christmas tree is always a natural tree and one of their colleagues, Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin) even has a tree lot.
(We’ll just note that the tree was done in 15 minutes, so you know it was put up by men.)
Evers’ excuse for not having a Christmas tree in the Capitol is that the building is closed to the public because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, staff and legislators are still working in the Capitol, and most Wisconsinites only saw past Capitol Christmas trees on social media or in newspapers.
Children sending ornaments to the state Capitol is a public activity that reminds our state government that the Capitol is not just their place of work, but that it belongs to all of us. It’s a tradition that dates back to 1916, which is even older than the governor. The Capitol even raises money for its upkeep by selling commemorative Christmas ornaments.
The decision by Capitol police to remove the Christmas tree is interesting given the Capitol police’s record about removing anything from the Capitol. In 2018, Sen. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) was fined $30,000 for removing an unattended protest sign from the public area in the Capitol that was far more offensive than a Christmas tree. In 2011, protesters occupied the state Capitol, even camping on every floor of the building without permits, and they were not removed by the Capitol police.
However, an unattended Christmas tree put up by state legislators, that is something that had to be removed immediately.
This is not the first time that Evers decided he didn’t like Christmas trees. In 2019, Evers decided he didn’t like calling the tree that everyone puts up for Christmas a “Christmas tree” so he called the Capitol tree a “Holiday Tree.” To take the magic and spirit of Christmas completely away, Evers dedicated the tree to “science.”
After that, we presume he fired Bob Cratchit from the Department of Workforce Development Unemployment Benefits call center and told Tiny Tim there is no Santa Claus.